Tag Archives: Weeding

Weeding Blues

Weeding - 2

I left my  garden during the height of the summer for a month. The weather was hot and rainy while I was gone evident by the profusion of weeds I found when I came back.  Photo is not great, but yes, there is basil under all those weeds!  At first I could not even see the plants from the weeds.  This particularly pesky weed is Prostrate Knotweed, Polygonum aviculare. An annual weed, it spreads widely and very difficult to eradicate. Just finding the root is a real challenge!It covered all my vegetable beds even in places where I had laid black weed prevention cloth.I also found abundant Crabgrass some plants as wide as a child’s swimming pool! Not exaggerating… In my perennial beds, Prostate Spurge, Euphorbia maculata, Ground Ivy, Healall, Deadnettle, Dandelion and my archenemy, Canada Thistle! Clearly, I had a lot of work ahead!

Weeding - 1

Here, one small area after weeding.

This brings me to the purpose of this essay. WEEDING. It requires tenacity, discipline and above all, the right frame of mind. To all those who have asked, no, there are no shortcuts. I always advise against using synthetic herbicides . Besides affecting our health and that of our beloved pets, they disrupt the delicate web connecting the millions of organisms that populate our soil.  I do recommend the use of organic controls such as corn gluten which is a pre-emergent that prevents seed from germinating. A very economical -and eco friendly-  homemade herbicide mix I use: 1 Gallon vinegar, 1/4 cup of Dawn and 2 cups of epson salts. Mix in sprayer and apply.  Works quite well on hard surfaces like  brick patios and driveways, or applied directly on deep rooted weeds like dandelion. Best sprayed on a sunny day. A cover of mulch on bare areas is a good option too. Here are some more tips to make weeding more manageable:

Be consistent.  Pull them when you see them and do not let them go to seed or you will have them forever.

Get those roots. If you are doing the work, might as well get the whole plant.  Most can regenerate within weeks if some of the root is left behind.

Do one area at the time.  This has the benefit of giving you that sense of accomplishment by seeing your results without being overwhelming. You will be surprised by what you can accomplish in just one hour a day.

Plant densely. Weeds are opportunistic.  If there is available exposed soil they will be the first to populate.  So use perennial ground covers in the front of your borders to keep them out.

Make the best of it. Look at all the positive aspects:  Spending time outdoors, can be a great workout once you incorporate some stretching and moving around, music or podcasts really help, my IPod happens to be an indispensable tool when weeding. Or just tune in to the sounds of nature. I am always surprised of how much is going even in a very small garden! So, get “in the zone”and weed on…

“Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be.  Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony.  It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.”  ~Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden, 1973




Beat the Heat and Humidity.

Coreopsis,Veronica, and Echinacea.

We are experiencing a major heat wave. This morning I heard that there is a heat advisory for 29 states in the North east and south of the country, with temperatures in the 90 to the 100 degree mark!  This is not necessarily bad for your garden, as long as it gets at least one inch of rain or watering per week.  A simple rain gage or even wide glass jars or can in between your beds will give you a close idea of how much rain or water your plants are receiving.  When you do water, water deeply and directly to the roots, avoid giving flash showers and wetting the entire plant.  Watering early in the day is also recommended to give the plant the moisture it needs to make it thru the heat of the day.  More tips on watering  here.  Most important in extreme heat, for the sake of water conservation is to water your trees and shrubs first.  Next, your perennial borders and last, your grass.  Grass has the amazing quality of going dormant when water is scarce,  it does not die,  just turns brown and rests, as soon as it starts raining again it will come back.  If you are one of those people who is not overly concerned of a little brown on the grass, let it go.    More water on lawns actually promotes shallow roots which weaken the grass and makes it more likely to die in extreme conditions.

Dianthus also thrives in dry heat.

Work must go on in the garden.  Perhaps our chores are a bit lessened in the heat of the summer.  I have narrowed my chores to some light weeding, watering and deadheading.  I try to go out early in the day or in the evening after the sun is low in the horizon.  Both times are my favorite in the garden:  Birds and other wildlife are very active and the morning chorus and going ons are in full swing. Weeding is important because this opportunistic plants rob your perennials of needed nutrients and water.  Deadheading keeps the plants producing blooms and contributes to the overall beauty and health of the plant.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”.

LORAN EISELY, The Immense Journey, 1957









August in my garden

Rudbeckia hirta. 'Black-eyed Susan'

After a month’s vacation, I came back to find that my garden help did not show up to water and weed as I had expected.  The harsh reality of a very hot August with little rain sunk in, as I took in the sight of a lot of very dry garden beds and flower pots and lots and lots of weeds.  Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work, The great need for water became my first task:

Water and then water some more. Every hose had been doing double duty this week.  The perennial beds have soaker hoses from end to end.  I placed my soaker hoses in the ground before the mulch went in,  this cuts down on water evaporation and deliver a steady but slow dose where needed.  All recently planted trees or shrubs get a dripping hose at least once a week for a good long soak.  Pay special attention to established trees as well.  They could benefit from a good long drink.  The only thing not worth watering is the lawn. Grass goes dormant in very hot weather, it may look burnt and yellowed but as soon as it gets some rain it springs back and will continue growing.

Pull those weeds before they set seed! I usually make a pass thru all my beds at least once a week,  but a month is a stretch.  I have pulled thousands of weeds this week.  It appears that if there was a bit of open soil anywhere, it was quickly populated by the healthiest looking crabgrass, dandelion and such, happily growing and seeding themselves with admirable tenacity,  oh, if only my perennials grew with such vigor!

Deadheading is a very rewarding and necessary chore, it encourages perennial and annual plants alike to keep producing blooms a little longer.  There are many reasons why deadheading is important.  First of all, the welfare of the plant.  By removing spent blooms, the plant transfers its energy to keep producing more flowers -or a stronger plant- and not in forming seeds. In some cases this will allow the plant to bloom a lot longer.  Second, for aesthetic reasons, the overall appearance of the plant is improved making it look neat and compact. Finally, by deadheading you can keep some perennials that are notorious for reseeding from spreading.

So, the work goes on, I am happy to be back and in my garden where I feel totally in my element…

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed
and not a valuable plant, is to pull on it.
If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

saying by Author Unknown